How to Talk to Your Child’s Pediatrician During a Sick Visit

How to Talk to Your Child's Pediatrician During a Sick Visit

Do’s and Don’ts from a Parent Who’s Been There

When your child is sick, the last thing on your mind is professional etiquette. You want answers, and you want them now. But there are a few things you must do in order to get those answers and help your child get well:

Do ask questions. There is no such thing as a stupid question when it comes to your child’s health. If you are unsure about something, ask.

Don’t be afraid to challenge your pediatrician’s opinion. If you and your pediatrician disagree on something, speak up. If you have information that contradicts his opinion, say so. He may change your mind, or you may change his, or you may just agree to disagree. In any case, don’t take the pediatrician’s word as law without at least getting clarification.

Child's Pediatrician

Do take a list of questions and symptoms that your child has. This includes a timeline of when the symptoms began, what medications you may have administered (including Tylenol), what time of day the symptoms are most pronounced, and so on.

Don’t expect that you’ll be able to remember these things when put on the spot. Unless you have a bionic brain, you’ll probably forget something, and it’s likely to be important. Just write everything down before you get there.

Do research as much as you can beforehand so that you’re prepared for the possibilities of what illness your child may have. If you’re reading this article, then you have access to the internet – use it to your advantage. Sites such as are great resources for checking symptoms and getting information ahead of time.

Don’t try to self-diagnose, and don’t expect the worst. If your child has a cough and a runny nose, don’t automatically assume he has whooping cough. It’s probably just a cold.

Dotake full responsibility for your child’s well-being. You are with your child every day, you know what is normal for her. No matter what advice your doctor gives you, you alone are responsible for making sure that your child is healthy.

Don’t rely on the doctor to know everything about your child’s health. He sees dozens of patients every day, and can’t be expected to remember everything about all of them.

Do trust your instincts. If you feel in your gut that there is something wrong with your child, don’t stop until you get answers. If your child is colicky and your pediatrician says nothing can be done, seek a second opinion, and a third. Don’t stop until you are satisfied.

Don’t get paranoid. Don’t allow yourself to project your own hypochondriac tendencies onto your child. If he’s really not sick, don’t insist that there’s something wrong.

Do ask about alternative treatments instead of prescription medication. You may find that your child can be treated safely and effectively without the use of prescription drugs. This will save you money, and will carry less risk of side effects for your child.

Don’t demand antibiotics for every illness. In the same token, don’t automatically accept them if your pediatrician prescribes them for every illness either. Antibiotics are only effective against bacterial infections, not against viruses such as the flu. If your child doesn’t have an infection, taking antibiotics can do more harm than good. Only accept antibiotics when absolutely necessary.